Guilt

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Shalista
Posts: 1363
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:04 pm

Guilt

Post by Shalista » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:51 pm

Fairly wordy article. Short version? The only reason dogs look "guilty" is because you're scolding them and that scares them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19520245
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

AliceGrimm
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Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:38 am
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Guilt

Post by AliceGrimm » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:18 pm

I read something about that too. Like how people like to make these videos of dogs looking "guilty", but it has nothing to do with what they did. It is why they say don't scold your dog after it pees inside (if it is minutes or more after) as the dog doesn't relate peeing inside the house to why you are yelling. You should only startle the dog to get them to stop and take them outside and loads of praise.

So it makes sense for any other time people scold or take a tone or do something to make their dog look guilty, it is more of them looking that way because they can sense or tell you are upset. Great readers of body language and tone they are.

Suzette
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Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:45 am

Re: Guilt

Post by Suzette » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:33 pm

I can only go by my experience several years ago with my Sheltie. He was a lovely dog that had great house manners. We came home one day and the minute we came through the door, instead of greeting us happily, he tucked his tail and looked at us sheepishly (one might say guiltily). He had never done anything wrong when we had left before, but I knew something was up. So I walked around the house and found back in my daughter's bedroom that he had chewed up a library book. At that point we had had him for over four years with never an incident of chewing anything in the house.

I did not yell or reprimand. I just cleaned up the mess and let it go. It never happened again. But... he clearly knew he did something "wrong" that day. And it wasn't my behavior or attitude that he was feeding off of because when I walked in the house, I had no idea what he had done.

So clearly on some level, some dogs know when they have behaved in an inappropriate way. But I wholeheartedly agree that most of the time, it's the owners response to the situation that causes the dogs reaction.
My avatar is Piper, my sweet Pembroke Corgi. b. 5/11/11

Erica
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Guilt

Post by Erica » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:35 pm

Correlation does not equal causation -- perhaps something happened while you were gone (attempted break in, loud truck, plane flying close overhead?) that disturbed your dog. That event could have caused the book chewing and the subdued behavior when you returned.

Obviously, without a time machine and a few experiments, we can't be sure. Maybe your dog did feel some kind of upset at having chewed the book!
Delta, standard poodle, born 6/30/14

Suzette
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Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:45 am

Re: Guilt

Post by Suzette » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:53 pm

I hear what you are saying Erica. We had that dog for eight wonderful years (we got him from sheltie rescue as an adult) and in all that time that was the only time he ever chewed anything and the only time he ever had that reaction when we came in the door. I have to believe they are related. :wink:
My avatar is Piper, my sweet Pembroke Corgi. b. 5/11/11

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